Now that the sun is once again shining and lawns are being restored, it is time to talk about weeds! People with a green thumb know the damage weeds can cause, but many people do not even know how to identify weeds among the healthy grass and plants that live in a typical yard. We want every homeowner in the area to know how to spot some of the more common weeds in Virginia, so we have put together a list of weeds you are likely to encounter and how you can spot them.
Whether you are dealing with tricky grassy weeds or thick broadleaf weeds, your lawn and plants are suffering if weeds are present. All types of weeds develop roots that will eventually overtake the roots of desired plants. The grass on your lawn, for example, competes for the same nutrients that weeds need to absorb in order to survive. Your lawn and plants will only get thinner and weaker if weeds are not treated. Knowing how to properly identify common weeds is the best start to combating those weeds in your yard.
Buttonweed is a perennial broadleaf weed that is very common in Virginia. It prefers moist environments, so it is important to make sure that you are not overwatering your lawn and that your lawn does not have drainage issues. Like many low-growing weeds, Virginia buttonweed is prone to matting, which could lead to your turfgrass being suffocated and overtaken by this weed. The leaves of this plant are slightly thick, and they blend from a very pale green at the stem to a dark green toward the pointed tip of the leaf. The stems occasionally have tiny hairs and often have a reddish color that even extends along the edges of the leaves. In the leaf axis, a small, white, star-shaped flower can be seen, which is the most noticeable characteristic when one is looking for weeds.
This hardy broadleaf plant is an annual weed that starts to sprout in late summer, goes dormant in winter, and sets seed in the following spring, at which point the plant dies, and the cycle starts over. This weed is identifiable by its tiny, white-to-pink flowers and its flat leaves that are often described as egg-shaped leaves that come to a point. Another way to identify chickweed in your yard is by looking for thick matting or mounds of intertwined stems, as is typical when dealing with common chickweed.
From vibrant yellow flowers to delicate seed heads, dandelions are one of the easiest types of weeds to identify across lawns in Virginia. You may remember popping the heads off of the single yellow flower that accompanies the plant, or perhaps you would make a wish and blow on the soft seed heads as a child to watch the seedlings scatter across the yard; however, what you were actually doing was spreading the seeds of harmful weeds. As a perennial broadleaf weed, dandelions are strong and well-suited to harsh winter weather, and they will go dormant in winter to prepare to emerge in the following spring.
Clovers are very common weeds in the United States, and white clovers are particularly popular weeds in Virginia. These broadleaf perennials spread via their stolons, which are stems that grow outward and down to the ground until they find a moist patch of soil in which to take root and sprout new plants. The most recognizable parts of this weed are its soft, white flowers and its grouping of 3 leaves, which often have a white “V” on each individual petal-shaped leaf. White clovers thrive in nitrogen-deficient lawns, so it is important to make sure you are fertilizing properly.
There are different types of violets, but the common blue violet is likely the type you are used to seeing on your lawn. Flowers of purple or blue sit above the heart-shaped leaves of this weed, and the flowers are often angled slightly downward. Though they are pretty to look at, these perennial weeds have resilient roots that will damage and invade existing root systems in your lawn’s soil. You will see the flowers blooming in spring and wilting when temperatures start to rise, but the strong weeds will continue to grow if they are not treated.
This is one of many types of spurges, and it is an especially prevalent weed in Virginia. While you may see this weed on your lawn, you will likely find it in flower beds and near shrubbery. This is a low-growing weed that spreads outward, and you can easily identify it by its heart-shaped leaves that feature reddish spots. Spotted spurge is a fierce weed that will mat together and become difficult to remove, and the plant even produces a milky sap that causes mild rashes and irritations if one comes into contact with it.
If you are looking at a tubular, pink or purple flower that has tiny hairs on the top petal and a square stem, you are probably looking at henbit. The stems of henbit can grow up to 16 inches long, can be either a green or purplish color, and have rounded or heart-shaped leaves that are covered in tiny hairs. This winter annual will germinate in fall and start growing during early spring. As part of the mint family, some people choose to let these weeds grow and even harvest them, but their roots are as invasive as other weeds and could lead to a weaker lawn.
Due to their very similar appearances, purple deadnettle and henbit are two of the most commonly misidentified weeds in Virginia. Thankfully, there are a few key characteristics you can look for when identifying purple deadnettle. As another part of the same mint family as henbit, purple deadnettle also grows in early spring in areas where turf is struggling. Like henbit, purple deadnettle has a square stem, but the stem may be a darker color and stand more upright than that of henbit. The leaves of purple deadnettle are more triangular, scalloped, and they often have a deep reddish or purple color near the flower. The flowers of deadnettle are purple-to-red and more bulbous than henbit flowers.
Also known as “hairy bittercress,” this weed belongs to the mustard family, and it is an annual winter weed. Bittercress growth remains close to the ground, but the stems of the plant can reach up to 9 inches in length. This weed is often identified by its club-shaped leaflets that stand out among turfgrass. Tiny, white flowers emerge from the ends of the long stems, which will turn into long seed pods. This weed is known for its shallow, fibrous roots and its propensity for matting.
You will likely see this unsightly weed if your lawn has become too dense and compacted. Broadleaf plantains thrive in compacted lawns, and they are summer perennials, though they have been known to behave as annual weeds in some situations. Normally, broadleaf plantain emerges in the heat of the summer and lasts through fall. The leaves grow in a rosette, and they are unmistakably thick and waxy, which is the most noticeable feature of the weed. The stalk-like branches of this plant are sturdy enough to support these large, oval-shaped leaves, and the leaves often grow slightly upward. Flowers of this weed are a greenish-brown color, and they have a purple stamen on top of a long stem in the middle of the leaves.
This may be the first type of weed you see in the springtime, as corn speedwell is infamous for being an early riser as the growing season begins. This is one of the more difficult weeds to control in Virginia, mainly due to its adaptability in compacted soils and thin lawns. The weed begins growing in a prostrate manner, but the stems turn upward as flowers start to bloom. The flowers of corn speedwell are very small, boast a range of blue colors, and feature four distinct petals. The leaves are more oval-shaped toward the ground, but they become more slender and pointed near the top of the stem. Both the leaves and the stems of corn speedwell are covered in tiny hairs.
By both its name and reputation, crabgrass is one of the most well-known weeds in Virginia. Crabgrass germinates, lives, and dies all in the same year, but its seeds will allow new crabgrass to emerge in the following summer. A single crabgrass plant can produce 150,000 seeds, which, when combined with its strong and deep roots, makes this weed difficult to control. As a grassy weed, crabgrass is often mistaken for normal turfgrass, but it can be differentiated by its flat, wide leaves and multi-branched stems that are often likened in appearance to crab legs.
Weed Control Services For Virginia
This article is intended to help you identify some of the more invasive and harmful weeds that you may find in your yard, but removing them requires years of experience to know which type of treatment is most effective for each type of weed. If you notice any of these weeds in your yard, do not start digging and pulling without doing a little more research. Certain weeds have deeper or more shallow roots than others, and not all weeds spread in the same manner, meaning not all weeds will respond to the same treatment. Potomac Lawn Professionals offers experienced and expert weed control services in Virginia, so you don’t have to worry about your lawn and gardens this summer. For more information on weed control in Virginia, call us today at (703) 533-5296.